Taiko no Tatsujin PS4/Switch launch guide

This week sees the release of not one but two games in the Taiko no Tatsujin series, after an absence that has spanned a decade and a half. It’s a great time to give it a try! But what is Taiko about, and which should you get?

Yep, you’re in the right place. Let’s get to it!

What are these games?

We’ve talked about this before, but Taiko no Tatsujin is a rhythm game series about hitting a drum a bunch. If you played the lone English release on PS2, you already know this, and if you played the Donkey Konga games on GameCube, you know, too, as it’s essentially the same thing. You may also have gotten a shot at it in Yakuza 5, as a limited version of it shows up in arcades.

Red notes indicate that you should hit the face of the drum, and blue notes mean you should tap the edge. There are also roll notes, that have you hitting the drum as fast as possible, and large notes, that award extra points for harder strikes. Like most rhythm games, the difficulty comes in throwing more and more notes at you, and like most rhythm games, you can use a controller and it makes things a bit easier at the expense of (perhaps) a bit of the fun factor. Either way: there are some adorable drums smiling at you and helping you have a good time.

What makes Drum Session (PS4) better?

If your focus is solely on the rhythm gameplay, you may find the PS4 game more to your liking. There are similar song counts for each base game, but the Asian releases of Drum Session had access to a lot more DLC, and at least some of those could show up eventually.

Even without that, you’ll find avatar customization here, and there’s a lot of fun in dressing up your little drum. You can share your drum, along with ghost data from songs, out to your friends, and players are encouraged to play “co-op” this way to unlock things more quickly. It also, frankly, runs a bit better than its Switch counterpart due to the more capable hardware; it’s not a huge difference, but high-level rhythm players may care quite a lot.

Want to know more? We wrote about the game at its Japanese launch. You can find detailed information and a full song list at the (excellent) Taiko Time blog.

What makes Drum ‘n’ Fun (Switch) better?

The biggest selling point this version has is its selection of minigames. These are multiplayer challenges in the vein of Rhythm Heaven, and up to four players can take them on. They’re not held together in some sort of Mario Party-like way, but they’re there and they can be enjoyable! Unfortunately, the rhythm segments are still two-player only; the Wii U and Wii games had full four-player drumming, and it was a lot of fun.

You could also prefer this version for the Nintendo content. In place of customizable avatars is a batch of specific companion characters with specific modifiers for added or lessened challenge in play, and two of these are Kirby and an Inkling Squid. They can join you on some Nintendo tracks, like the Super Mario Odyssey theme or medleys from their respective games, as well as be your pal for any other tune.

Also, hey, this one’s portable! Rhythm games work very well with a handheld and some headphones, and this one lets you do that. And there are motion controls that let you use your Joy-Cons as drumsticks! It’s not the most accurate way to hit notes, but it’s there and functional. (Or… you could leave it docked and use DK Bongos, after jumping through a couple of hoops? See below.)

We covered this version in a video you can watch! Also, once again, Taiko Time has a great track listing.

Bonus: How to use DK Bongos on Drum ‘n’ Fun!

Okay, so this is less than ideal, but you can do it. We did! Here’s how!

You’ll need: DK Bongos, GameCube controller adapter, some other controller, the Taiko game and a docked Switch

1. Setup! Plug in the controller adapter and controller. (Remember, you only need to plug in the black USB cable. The gray one just powers rumble, and the bongos don’t have that.) Boot the game using the other controller.

2a. The easy way. Select the drum sticks as your character. (They’re unlocked by playing literally any party game once.) They make all the buttons do the same thing while you play so you don’t have to worry.

2b. The best you can do. Head into the control settings. You can make B/Y blue and A/X red to make the left bongo blue and right red, or X/Y blue and A/B red to make the front of each red and the back blue. Up to you! Just know that you’ll need to change this back if you don’t like this setting for regular controller play.

3. Final prep! Get to whichever song you want to play in the menu, then move to your preferred difficulty setting. Hit the Home button, go to Controllers and then go to Change Grip/Order. Hit the bongos, then re-sync your normal controller to the next slot so you can use it to get back to the game.

4. DK Taiko! Hit the front right bongo button to start! That’s your A button. Then there’ll be some music for you to play.

You can do some menu controls with the bongos to keep playing. The back right button selects a random song and the front left is your B button, so you can keep hitting shuffle and backing out to find your next tune.

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